Guest blogging today is Dr. Marilyn Steele, A Jungian psychologist, dream consultant, author and artist. Marilyn is a dear friend and colleague with whom I have consulted on my own dreams, in mining for wisdom. I am so excited to share some of her medicine with you!
The Doctor Within and Wild Medicine
A few weeks ago I dreamed I was in labor but my OB-GYN, Susan Griffin, was out-of-town on vacation. After an initial moment of panic, I remembered that I had already birthed three children naturally. I know how to do this.
Although now I am laboring to birth a book The Way of the Wild Feminine rather than a baby, the dream includes three themes of my own awakening to feminine power: Dreams. The creative process. And motherhood. I had not actually planned on growing up to be a woman, since it seemed they had very small, boring domestic lives without much power or freedom in the world. But in birthing my first baby forty years ago, I felt in every cell of my body a deep love for the lineage of birthing mothers, and the shocking revelation that we were magnificently powerful. Amazed and angry, I was determined to tell a new, truer story of the self in psychology from a woman’s point of view. Along my weaving life path have been brilliant thinkers like my dream doctor –visionary, feminist author of Woman and Nature (1979). Making art and writing began to root me in my own inner authority, and helped to open a channel to Spirit. My strongest medicine came from dreams. And so became my reclamation of the wild woman.
“We begin our search for the wild, whether as girlchildren or as adult women, because in the midst of some wildish endeavor we felt that a wild and supportive presence was near…We sensed the sound of a familiar breath from afar, we felt tremors in the ground, and we knew that something powerful, someone important, some wild freedom within us was on the move.” Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Because the Feminine has been in exile for so long, we must go down to the roots, to the realm of the imaginal, mythic and archetypal unconscious to retrieve her stories, her values, her visions. Dreams are a direct pathway to this realm.
There is intelligence in the Universe- call it the Great Mystery, Spirit, Higher Power, Goddess, the holy – that wants the best for us and calls us to healing, to wholeness, to holiness. To wake up, we dream. Dreams help us grow soul, strengthen body and mind to house the bigger Self, so that we may bring a new story to ourselves and the world.
We can learn to trust, too, that the symptom or illness, the uncontrollable or irritating or even dangerous behavior has some gift to bestow. Soul speaks through the body. These are signs of a future pulling us in the direction of our divine destiny.
One of the great cosmic jokes Spirit has made through me is developing me into a feminist, an artist who loves science when I had never planned on becoming a woman, certainly not a “feminine” one, and had nearly flunked out of UC Berkeley due to the science requirement. I have learned to trust my dreams, to strengthen the dialogue between ego and Self, and to continue to find and empty those stubborn pockets of perfectionism which squelch the joy from my life.
Some gifts you can find in your dreams:
- A truthful self-portrait of your psyche
- Meaningful dialogue between Ego and Self
- Creative renewal
- Animal allies and spirit guides
- The secret wishes of your soul
- Initiation to your vocation and calling
- The playful and loving presence of the Great Mystery
The archetypes of the collective unconscious function like strange attractors in a quantum field. Our brains are like tuning systems, tuned in to our collective memory and our collective becoming. We are not our past. We are not our present. We are always in the process of becoming and we carry this process into being. We wild women carry the emerging possible.
The journey to a wild Feminine wisdom is a weaving way, a sometimes harrowing path, until we can become self-earthed, rooted in our natural feminine sourceground. We are the weavers and Wayfinders for a different kind of world, one in which it will be easier to love.
Here are some practices to reclaim your own wild feminine power and wisdom:
Welcome your dreams. Take action on them.
Walk in Nature.
Do yoga, dance, swim.
Begin each day by writing three pages.
Read inspiring spiritual prose or poetry.
Be quiet for a half hour every day to listen for the still, small voice within.
Create something, often. A poem, a song, a dance, a collage, a drawing.
Be alert to the synchronicities around you.
The more you practice the more you can begin to trust and be peaceful, rooted in the faith Spirit will let you know what needs your attention, what is flourishing as well as offering creative possibilities for your future.
About the Author
A Jungian psychologist, dream consultant, author and artist for over thirty years, Dr. Steele has taught extensively in the Bay Area and abroad on women’s psychology, the wisdom of dreams and the essential role of the wild and sacred Feminine archetype in the evolution of consciousness. Her office is in Lafayette, and she consults via telephone and Skype.
She has published creative nonfiction and spiritual memoir in numerous journals and anthologies such as Psychological Perspectives: A Jungian Journal, SageWoman, Zone 3, and Left Curve.
In 2012 she published a deck of Wild Cards, poetry to empower and awaken women. A memoir, The Wild Feminine: Stories to Inspire and Embolden, was released in May 2013 and recently chosen as one of The Spirited Woman Foundation’s Top Book Picks. A second book, The Way of the Wild Feminine:Tell a New Story, Draw a New Map for the World, is forthcoming in 2016.
For further information, go to theWildFeminine
Just over one year ago, I threw my back out. Trying to be Supermom: wearing heels and carrying a 30 lb child, working inside and outside the home, preparing to present at an international eating disorders conference.
A Jungian colleague of mine asked what might be in my shadow that might “have my back,” or be “breaking my back.” In Jungian psychology, the shadow is aspects of the self that are unwanted, unknown, or “dystonic” (not familiar or owned by the conscious self). It often shows up through projecting one’s “shadow” parts onto others. Ex: “She’s so angry.” “He’s so greedy.” “Who does she think she IS being so full of herself?”
What had my back? Well, it turns out that the often quoted Marianne Williamson quote was true:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other
people won’t feel insecure around you…
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others.
—Marianne Williamson, Return to Love Harper Collins, 1992.
It was fear of my own growing power. So I rested my back (as well as did all sorts of other healing modalities) and healed my back. Friends will often say “I got your back!” as a way to encourage you to move into and through something scary. What has your back? How can you support your back? What parts of yourself are you afraid to own?